Catholic aesthetics as a liberal art
  • Kathy
    Posts: 4,996
    There's an eminently quotable Emily Dickenson poem about reading; I must have learned it in the third or fourth grade: "There is no frigate like a book To take us lands away, Nor any coursers like a page Of prancing poetry. This traverse may the poorest take Without oppress of toll; How frugal is the chariot That bears a human soul!"

    In a certain perhaps mythical time of Church history, sacred art and architecture were for the poor man both catechism and university. Anyone, for free, could learn about Christ and proportion, logic and redemption.

    Even more mythical perhaps is the dream that Church music provided a consistently elevated aesthetic experience. But with chant in the forefront, it may have. With cathedral polyphony, it may have--but not everyone could travel to the cathedral.

    The disappearance of the elevating aesthetic is not as troubling to me as the disappearance of the IDEAL of the elevating aesthetic. Does anyone even care if the mind and heart have a way of being lifted to the heavens? Are we doing ok without being drawn up, by beauty?
  • rollingrj
    Posts: 266
    I don't think any of us would be here if we didn't believe in the Ideal and its continued expression. We realize how much poorer the Church has become because of "liturgical reform" and "church renovation". We struggle against the indifference of the average person in the pew and rail against those who think they know "better". All because we have been touched by something mystical and, like love, wish to share it with all. Quixotic? Yes. But, to quote Robert Browning, "Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp. Or what's a heaven for?"
  • mjballoumjballou
    Posts: 986
    The collapse of ideals is the hallmark of post-modernism and the triumph of a utilitarian understanding of human institutions. Everything that hasn't originated in the academy is subjected to the "hermaneutic of suspicion" and the church exists to make people well-behaved consumers and employees.

    However, none of us intend to go down without a fight!
  • Kathy
    Posts: 4,996
    If heaven is the goal, then the ideal is utilitarian. If not, not.

    "...and fit us for heaven/ to live with Thee there."